The North Star Grand Prix Stage 3: Cannon Falls Road Race
Today was a mess. I started the race feeling fine, which I thought was pretty suspect. I didn't feel great, I felt fine. Not good, not bad, just fine. I went with it.
We started from the line in "neutral", this was the most aggressive neutral rollout I've experienced yet. I held my spot, and rode it out. I started to feel queasy.. WTF... We made it through all of the roundabouts and the race was on.
The pace was manageable, I tucked in. My legs felt great, my stomach felt like it was ready to show me what I ate earlier. I let it. Ugh. Rolling, rolling, rolling. Nothing special, rolling hills, a few breakaway attempts, going going going. The downhills were great, I saw the other girls sneaking in little nooks and crannies to move up. I did the same.
FEED ZONE. I spotted neutral feed and grabbed a bottle (GO ME!) It was a 65 mile race, and the feed zone was a little after mile 22.. i could not afford to miss it.
Rolling some more... ate a little bit of food. Then apparently what I thought was my pocket was just my race number pinned to my pocket. So the rest of that snack is probably on the ground somewhere near mile 23... smh
Rolling, rolling, rolling. Then it hit. I lost my oomph right around the 3rd sprint. I felt dizzy and my feet were on fire, I was falling behind, and I didn't have enough to keep contact.
I saw my hopes and dreams inching away from me. I kept pedaling. I was offered a bottle from a car in the caravan. I happily accepted. Kept pedaling. Loosened my shoes. and tried to work with another girl who was falling behind.
I looked back, she was more tired than I was. I kept going. I was in no man's land. Great. JUST GREAT. I reached a cop directing traffic. He waved me through and I went straight. I crossed a major road. Something didn't feel right, but I kept going anyway. Going, going, going. Then I got the huge sensation that I was lost and getting more lost by the minute.
I had the epiphany that I was somewhere in Minnesota, with no clue where I was going, no phone, and no flat repair stuff. Just hope. I prayed to Black Jesus that I wouldn't get a flat, cuz that would've been the end.
I tried to flag down cars coming in the opposite direction to ask if they'd seen the race up the road. They all thought I was being friendly and gave me a nice friendly wave back. Le sigh.
I spotted a farmer cutting his grass. I stopped and yelled out to him. He couldn't hear me over his riding mower. He turned it off so he could listen. He spoke in a whisper. I have decided he is a hoarse farmer because it makes me laugh. (Horse farmer? Get it? C'mon!!! ) He wasn't sure if a race had gone by, but he hadn't seen anything. He offered me his phone. I didn't even know who I'd call, so I thanked him and moved it along.
I saw a kid in a convertible. Flagged him down, he stopped. He hadn't seen anything, and looked really sad for me. lol.
I was lost, i turned around. The hoarse farmer saw me coming, turned off his mower again, and pulled out his iphone. I accepted. I figured I could pull up the race course on the internet.
As I was pulling up the course map, a man in a pickup truck pulled over. He explained that he'd seen me earlier, and wasn't sure if I was lost, but seeing me again, he was positive I was lost. He offered me a ride.
I explained that if I accepted his ride, i'd be out of the race for sure. So he helped me figure out how to get back to the course. The hoarse farmer gave me a wave and wished me good luck. I was on my way.
Of course the way back was uphill with a headwind. lol. I rode for a bit until I approached the cop from before. He pointed in the right direction this time. I think I gave him a side eye, I was frustrated, forgive me.
As soon as I was back on track, a wave of hunger hit me. I ate every single thing left in my pockets. I did my best to chew everything to mush as best as I could, and sparingly drank sips of water to wash it down. I didn't want to bloat, my stomach had done enough acrobatics already.
I saw some arrows for the next turn. Wait. THERE WERE ARROWS? Why didn't I see them? Were they blocked by the cop car? Wtf... I mean, he waved so confidently I thought nothing of it. Ah well, at least I knew where I was finally.
Going, going, going. Crosswinds and rolling hills. Then the thoughts creeped in. "dude, you suck. this is bad, real bad" followed by the positive counter thoughts of "girl, just keep going, beating yourself up aint gonna do nothing for you right now." I decided to go with the latter.
I spotted my pals from Snowy Mountain Photography on the side of the road after the QOM. It was nice to see some familiar faces. They assured me I didn't have far to go. THANK GOD.
Eventually I made my way back to Cannon falls and over the finish line. Thanks to my detour my race was longer than it was supposed to be and took what felt like ages in the crosswinds all alone.
I'm not mad, but it was a rather frustrating/ comical experience. I'm totally going to laugh about this in the future. For now my pals the hoarse farmer and dude in the pickup truck will warm my heart with memories of their help and humanity. If not for them I might still be wondering around out there in Goodhue, Minnesota.
What did I learn?
- For the love of God, don't get dropped. Maybe I could've pushed a little bit more?
- If you do get dropped, pay closer attention for arrows and route markers.
- Overhydration is a thing and might be responsible for my early race nausea, I will explore this more.
- Trust your instincts, if you think you're off course, you probably are... Turn back sooner than later.
- Moving up within the pack with relative ease.
- Feed zone bottle toss/ grab. I sort of just grabbed it like a football and pulled it into my chest. I didn't slow down very much and have to waste a ton of energy catching back up to the pack like EVERY SINGLE DAY OF REDLANDS. lol.
- I completed two Strava challenges? This counts right? I need a win guys...
As of this moment, I'm not 100% sure I made the time cut, but if I do continue on tomorrow, I am ready to take the day on as a new day and a new race. I will gladly take my lessons learned, and leave the rest of today's ridiculousness behind me.
UPDATE: ONWARD!!! I'm in!